“We went kayaking. Normally we’re in the same kayak, but he wanted his own this time. He stopped. In the middle of the river with a guide and all, he just stopped. All I heard was my son complaining that this and that hurt as the guide and the rest of the group kept going. The guide had to come back and get us.”
You can hear the disappointment and possibly embarrassment as Dad tells the story. He wanted him to be a man and yet his son was a boy. A boy who protected from the life challenges that make a boy a man because his immigrant parents wanted the best for their son in this country. They wanted life to be better for their son. In their earnest effort to do this they raised the resilience right out of him.
This is a scenario that was repeated with African American families as their grandparents and parents defeated Jim Crow laws in order to have the same opportunities as their white counterparts. As difficult as it is to see the hoses and the police, the pushing and the spitting, it is that process that created the resilience of a generation that appreciated the sweetness of walking through the gates of schools previously not known to them.
The fight. The struggle is what does it -create resilience, that allows your teen to man up. When you’ve worked so hard to achieve what has become a life that is easier for your children what you owe them is not an “easier” life, but now that you’ve learned how well hard work can create a responsible and self-reliant person, you understand that that is the life you owe your teen in order to make their life better, challenges they problem solve their way through with your support. Your achievements should make your life easier; your teen needs to learn what you’ve already learned don’t take it away from them by making their life easier.